Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

The Faithfulness of God 6/9/2013


Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

In our congregation today there are few who have not been touched by death in their immediate family. For some it occurred many years ago, some more recent, and some very recent. No one escapes the pain of separation from a loved one if they live very long.

As I share of the faithfulness of God in our family's life today, it is done for no other reason than to give glory to God for His faithfulness and when doing so, if I say things that may be insensitive to others who have gone through a death in their family, I apologize and ask your patience with me as I share of my recent time in the west with my mother and my family.

I do not wish to confuse or sadden anyone, but only wish to point to the faithfulness of God towards our family and, therefore give hope and consolation to those who may today be grieving the loss of a loved one.

I also bring this message as an encouragement to those whose loved ones may be nearing the time when there will be a physical separation from one another. May we make wise use of the time that we have left with one another.

So let us begin.....with the following..


"In this hour of sorrow, may you find solace and consolation in the knowledge that God never errs, but that, if not now, sometime you'll understand the meaning of your tears and there, sometime you'll understand."

"The wonderful and eternal consolation which you are so fortunate to have is the perfect assurance that your loved one departed with his house of faith founded on the one and only sure foundation, Christ Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone. Your sorrow need not be as that of those which have no hope. Instead you may wait for the hour of awakening with joy, knowing that it will be a glad reunion in the mansions of glory."

Those are excerpts from a letter written by Pastor Alvin Holmgren to our mother and to us as her children after the death of her husband and of my/our father in 1962.

And then a few years later........from a letter written to mom in 1967 by Pastor Alvin Holmgren after the death of our sister Nancy at 20 years......

"Dear sister, our thoughts and prayers have been with you daily as we have remembered with sadness through which you have traveled this last month. How good it is to know that we have a Father in heaven whose strength is made perfect in us even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His comfortable presence and His willingness to bear the burdens with us serve to ease the trial even though it be the loss of a loved one.


Pastor Holmgren became one of the men who "watched over" our family in the following years as our mother and we as her children sought to live our lives in his absence. But God is faithful and will always provide........


Mother shared with one of us that one of her prayers to God was that she would not be taken away suddenly since our father had been taken in a moment from us....That prayer was answered, for she lived to be just short of 94 and the last two months of her life was lived with her family near her and around her..........

She was a very quiet woman, who said that "the more she trusted, the less she worried."

Our mother loved to read Scripture, she loved to listen to tapes of sermons on her tape player which always was by her side. In particular she loved two readings, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament. I place them here in honor and memory of her, realizing that in them is a richness that continually can be mined over and over again. As a brother told me a number of years ago, the Scriptures are the Word of God and they lie quietly before us waiting to be mined by those who hunger and thirst after righteousness..... And God is faithful and will always provide........



KJV Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

She also loved this portion from one of the Gospels, which in her last weeks often asked to be read to her. As we took turns reading this account of events after the death and resurrection of Jesus, there were times when Christ was revealed anew to us and our hearts burned in love towards Christ and towards one another as by her bedside the Lord opened up the Scriptures to us. God is faithful and will always provide.....;

Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

Mother experienced a lot of adversity in her life, but she did not walk away from our Lord as these men were doing. . But God is faithful and will always provide........
But it was not easy for her, as it is not always easy to persevere, as the following writing that she wrote somewhere along her journey illustrates......It is named:


God Remembers Us

By Elsie Wirkkala

The writers in the Bible had doubts and often felt despondent. We are accustomed to read that they were heroes of the faith and bold confessors of it. The writer of Psalms is not afraid to reveal his doubts; that does God remember me? Thus we may confess our unbelief and thence trust that God is merciful to us sinners. We may pour out our feelings before Him. We may battle in our mind against despair and say, "God remember me, remember me again, do not reject me."

Another point we may notice. We are accustomed to think that God is an almighty majesty and king who rules everything. Everything is in His hands in this life. We think God has foreordained everything. We have no say in His plans. We have no influence on changing them. God knows, decides, dictates all.

When we think thus, God becomes to us cold, distant, and far off, foreign who cares little about our thoughts. We receive a picture of God who is hard and immovable. The gospels and the book of Isaiah give us a picture of a different God. A God who is near and warm, of a God to whom it is important what we feel and think and ask from Him. We have a God who hears our personal matters. He feels our experience in our daily lives. Of this we have an example of the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28) and also King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38).


Mother struggled with life, just like you and I have done and yet do. But she did not give up, as she told one of our sisters in Christ during her last weeks. "Never give up your faith," speaking those words in a whisper having lost her voice.....She never gave up, for she trusted God to the end.

As I reflect on my/our mother's love and commitment to our family, may I retrace briefly a sketch of her life for us all.......I think that....

Mother heard the voice of Jesus from her youth

She came to know Him as her Creator and her Saviour

As she journeyed she came to know Him as her Friend, her Consoler and her Counselor.

She drew near Him when He drew near her in the difficulties and sorrows of life. (What would have happened to us if she had walked away from God in all the trials that she went through)?

She continually prayed for us, she cared for us, visited us when we had need, for she never stopped being our mother.

She longed for the city whose builder and maker is God.

She now dwells in that city which is lit by the glory of God and of the Lamb

She now praises Him in the fulness of love, joy and peace!

On a personal note, our mother gave us life, she taught us about Jesus at home and by taking us to Sunday School and to church, she showed us who Jesus was through her example as she cared for our family without a husband, she prayed for us, she encouraged us and counseled us right to the end and lastly, she showed us how to wait for God's time to be called to heaven to see Jesus.

As often is the case in many families, the tears of a mother are of sorrow as she watches, agonizes and prays for her children. As time goes on, as God works in unseen ways, as she prays, and as she counsels, it is also often the case that her tears are turned to tears of joy over seeing her children find the way for which she had been praying for them. As she prayed for us, as God worked in His own ways, and now coming together as a family near our mother for an extended period of time, a reawakening of love was experienced in the hearts of many of us toward Him and toward one another.............a recommitment of continuing our relationships into the future was gained which will continue in mother's absence.....The fruit she planted and watered is growing.......Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not His benefits..........

God is faithful and will always provide........

As we spent time going though her personal effects, I ended up with a devotional of hers. As I looked through it I came across one which she clearly could identify with in her life and which seems fitting to close this message with.

ESV Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

"There was a young man who was to get married to a beautiful young lady, whom he had never seen with his physical eyes, but had only been able to feel with his fingers of her beauty. Some time before the wedding, he underwent surgery to give him sight, and at the wedding the bandages would be taken off with the hope that for the first time he would look upon his bride with his eyes.

Suspense was in the air, expectation was great and all eyes were on the groom as the physician took off the bandages from his eyes. All watched as the groom took a step forward, his head jerked as his eyes reacted to seeing for the first time. They all wondered...Did he see? What did he see?

He straightened up, then turned and looked for the face of his beloved, and then with a dignity and a joy never seen on his face before, he looked into her eyes and she into his. As the onlookers quietly gazed upon this sacred moment, it seemed as if the eyes of the couple would never go away from each other's eyes. They only looked into the face and into the eyes of each other.................

"At last!", she said. "At last!" he said. "

What a beautiful moment, a moment which is a foreshadowing of that which is to come, the moment that came for mother and the moment that will come for all who love Him and wait for His appearing.

God is faithful, He has provided, and will provide and in doing so will provide abundantly......

We sang at my mother's funeral this beautiful hymn at her request.

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ Who died for me?

Refrain
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessèd day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.
Refrain

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.

Refrain
Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ Who loves me so.
Refrain

For my mother, it was "At last" and she heard from Him, "yes, at last" Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world......

May our eyes be heavenward today as we travel through the challenges of this life, awaiting the call from Him to be with Him forever and forever. Know that God has provided everything for you for salvation through Christ Jesus, He will provide everything that is needed bless and sustain you through this life and has provided you an eternal place of rest in joy and gladness with Him and His Son forever and forever.......

In His love and grace,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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